UA in the News: April 27, 2012
April 27, 2012 - Filed under: UA in the News
UA students learn coping skills, storm preparedness in year following tornado
Al.com – April 27
As the University of Alabama community continues to assist with storm recovery in Tuscaloosa, the psychological well-being of students in the aftermath of the storm and disaster preparedness have also become important issues on campus. Project Rebound UA, a university program that is part of a statewide crisis counseling initiative funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is addressing both in its last months of its $536,000 grant. The outreach program, staffed with 20 graduate student counselors, began connecting with students in November to determine the need for aid including community services and mental health assistance. Melanie Tucker, Project Rebound UA director and assistant professor in the Institute for Rural Health Research and the College of Community Health Sciences, said more students have approached them around the one-year anniversary of the April 27 tornado. “What we’re seeing more of now that the anniversary’s coming up — people are coming to us and they’re just wanting to talk, to tell their story or share what they’re doing right now,” Tucker said.
ABC 33/40 (Birmingham) – April 26
Counseling, community help tornado victims cope
Crimson White – April 27
Long after the tornado receded and the rubble settled, the April 27 tornado continued to tear through people’s hearts and minds. Many students and residents affected by the tornado have dealt with ongoing psychological and emotional injuries as physical wounds have healed. “The stress, the anxiety, a lot of grief and loss issues can culminate in affecting a person’s mental state,” said Larry Deavers of Tuscaloosa’s Family Counseling Service. Master’s student Jessica Trull said she had always been frightened of storms and was always certain she would die in one. She huddled in the bathroom of her University Village apartment on April 27, listening to the roaring of the twister and debris flying around. Though she escaped unharmed, she still calls it her “worst nightmare.” Trull can remember the weeks following that day vividly, when she spent time at her parents’ home to cope with the immensity of the situation…Holly Prewitt, a counselor at UA’s Counseling Center, said Trull isn’t alone with leaning on peers to cope. The Counseling Center hosts a weekly Tornado Recovery and Support group. “When they share their stories, it makes them feel like they weren’t the only ones that went through it,” Prewitt said. “Someone else understands exactly what happened to them. They are usually able to identify how their situations are similar.” Deavers said as time passes, the Family Counseling Service deals less with grief and more with stress relating to residual effects of the tornado.
Remaining Acts of Kindness Funds to be used for students, employees in emergencies
Crimson White – April 27
An email from University Relations sent on April 29, 2011 announced the establishment of the UA Acts of Kindness Fund to support emergency assistance for UA students and employees. The fund would raise more than $2.7 million from 3,016 donors, UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen said. “The University administration created the fund to respond to the large number of individuals who wanted to assist University students, faculty and staff after the tornado,” she said in an email. The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees approved the use of $500,000 left over from the fund to create the UA Acts of Kindness Endowed Scholarship earlier this month. “The endowment will be used to help current students who are facing an unexpected emergency situation,” Andreen said. Another $400,000 left in the fund will be used for employees. The Acts of Kindness: Employee Emergency Relief Fund exists to provide appropriate relief to eligible faculty and staff of the University who experience a qualifying event or emergency, according to the programs website. University employees can learn more about the fund at financialaffairs.ua.edu/benfund/. The fund is directed by a committee of seven and includes a representative of the faculty, alumni, staff, and athletics department; a representative familiar with financial aid; a representative appointed by the president; and a faculty or staff representative appointed by the University vice president of student affairs. Current employees classified as regular full time or regular part time and have completed their mandatory six month introductory period are eligible for awards.
Art department suffered human loss during storm
Crimson White – April 27
Craig Wedderspoon’s sculpture, “Fast,” demanded 10,000 two-inch aluminum squares and almost 800 hours of work. Before April 27’s storms, the 3-D metal quilt rested in the yard of another art professor, Steve Miller. Minutes after the tornado had hit Miller’s home, “Fast” had taken flight, landing a mile away on McFarland. It was altered and bent. The UA art department, a close group of less than 30 faculty members and just over 200 undergraduates, was changed by the storm. They lost homes, works and friends…Steve Miller was on ground floor of Gorgas Library, ready to ride out the storm. “But, suddenly, this one felt really bad, really unsettling,” Miller said, UA professor and coordinator of the MFA book arts program…After driving to his house on Hillcrest, Miller and two friends hustled to the basement, hitting the ground seconds before the noise found them. Minutes later, they dug through dirt, glass and nails, emerging from the basement to an unrecognizable landscape…But art professors lost more than their homes that afternoon. Their student and friend, Morgan Sigler, died in the storm. A senior majoring in graphic design, Sigler stood out in her classes…In their returns to normalcy, all three professors have felt touched by Sigler. Wegrzynowski had kept one of her practice sketches for over a year before her death. He’s since had the opportunity to return the piece to her family. While cleaning Sigler’s workstation in the studio, Wedderspoon and his students found horsehair, which Sigler had intended to use to imprint textures on her pottery. Inspired, her friends and classmates molded their own pieces with her material, presenting the finished works to her family. Even Miller, who never taught Sigler, feels a connection through his friendship with Wedderspoon and his fascination with “Fast.” “The piece changed during its flight,” Miller said. “It became connected to Morgan in a certain way.” Wedderspoon believes that “Fast,” broken after its flight, is a brutal reminder of the destruction—the destruction the Sigler family experienced on a profound level. But despite the wear, “Fast” is also a testament to integrity. Like the UA art department and the Tuscaloosa community, it was engulfed by a storm. Its strength was tested. And it’s still here, one year later.
UA professors question return to historic neighborhood
Crimson White – April 27
It’s Saturday morning, and Linda and Robert Parsons are inside the Starbucks at Midtown Village, each carefully sipping a steaming cup of coffee. This caffeinated start to the morning has been the Forest Lake residents’ long-running weekend routine. But in the past year, the ritual has been significantly altered. “I used to be able to just get up in the morning and walk over to Starbucks for some coffee before my morning stroll,” said Linda Parsons, a UA accounting professor and secretary of the Forest Lake Neighborhood Association. “Now, we usually drive over on the weekends, get some coffee and check on the neighborhood.” It’s a trivial modification to a commonplace routine, perhaps, but nevertheless a testament to April 27, 2011’s pervasive and lasting metamorphosis of every aspect of the lives of Forest Lake residents. The tornado destroyed the second floor of the Parsons’ home and damaged the first beyond repair, forcing them to demolish what was left and move away temporarily while rebuilding plans are set in order…According to Linda Parsons, 24 of the 31 homes that surrounded the lake were completely destroyed on April 27, and the other seven were damaged. Only three homes are currently being reconstructed…Other former residents, like Alexa Chilcutt, have already made the decision not to return. Chilcutt, director of the UA Public Speaking Program,…and her husband have moved into a home across the river and are working to sell their Forest Lake property…Beth Riggs, assistant to the director of the school of Library and Information Studies, still feels like she is camping out in her house, which sustained substantial roof, floor and furniture damage from water and debris during the storm. She said the tornado and the recovery process have served as a catalyst for her development of a deeper personal connection to her neighbors and the community.
University of Alabama grad Marillyn Hewson plans to ‘hit the ground running’ as Lockheed Martin president/COO
Huntsville Times – April 27
Marillyn Hewson won’t assume the presidency of the world’s largest defense contractor for another several months but, when she does, she’ll “hit the ground running.” Hewson, who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama, was named to succeed Chris Kubasik as the president and COO of Lockheed Martin. The announcement Thursday came after Chair/CEO Bob Stevens informed the company’s board of directors of his plans to retire as CEO after 25 years of service with the company. Kubasik, 51, will succeed Stevens, 60, as CEO effective Jan. 1, 2013. Subject to election by shareholders and approval by the board, Stevens will remain chair through January 2014. Hewson’s successor has not yet been named. “I’m extremely honored and humbled,” said Hewson, the executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Electronic Systems since January 2010, the company’s largest business unit. She was in Huntsville for meetings Thursday. “I’m just very, very excited to partner with Chris and to move the company forward.” Hewson, 58, said Stevens and Kubasik recommended her for the position, and she is “humbled to take on this role.” She was been with Lockheed for nearly 30 years, holding leadership positions on the staff and in three of the corporation’s four businesses.
Sacramento (Calif.) Bee – April 27
TV star encourages healthy lifestyle
The Gazette (Goose Creek, S.C.) – April 26
Goose Creek residents met a recent contestant from “The Biggest Loser” on April 10 at the Community Center gym. Hannah Curlee, who was featured on Season 11 of the NBC TV show stopped by to talk about her journey of self-discovery in an empowering motivational speech. She said she never thought she’d have the job she has today; Curlee now works for HCA Healthcare, which owns Trident Hospital, speaking to groups as the national director of health engagement. On the show she lost 120 pounds in 20 weeks, placing second only to her sister as the “Biggest Loser.”…At the University of Alabama, Curlee had a college sports career that was derailed by an accident that resulted in back surgery.
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.